I lifted my fuzzy pink sleep mask off of one eye and mumbled, “I’m not sleeping. Just taking a 25 minute nap.”, to the bleary-eyed 24-hour coffee shop worker who had disturbed me from my slumber.
As they almost always did, he shot me a quizzical look and left me alone.
A year after running away from home at 17, I was broke, homeless, and practicing the Uberman polyphasic sleeping schedule. That is, I was napping 25-minute chunks six times a day where ever I could.
After I woke up from this particular nap, I would come up with the idea of trying dumpster diving for food for the first time… but that’s a story for another day.
My thoughts were not on how hungry I was though, or how I might solve that problem. Not yet.
As I fell back into my nap, blocking out the florescent lights with the darkness of my sleep mask, my last thought was of appreciation. With this little bit of cloth and elastic band, I could sleep anywhere.
Nomads sleep in very weird places, at often strange hours.
I’ve slept on poolside hammocks, in café lounge chairs, on office building rooftops, in university tech labs, in public prayer rooms, on coworking space beanbags, park benches, grassy hills, and, of course, airplane seats.
They’re not always the most comfortable places to catch a few Zzzz. But without a sleep mask, getting any rest would prove nearly impossible. Which, in my opinion, makes this little bit of cloth and elastic a necessity for any nomad.
Over time I realized that sleep masks aren’t only useful for brightly lit nap spots; even in dark and comfy bedrooms, I consistently woke up more refreshed when I wore my sleep mask. Why? Well it turns out that even the tiniest amount of light while you sleep, like the blinking of your laptop’s indicator light, will disturb your sleep and leave you less rejuvenated than you should be.
So, knowing the value that sleep masks brought to my life, and the life of every nomad, I began my search for the very best sleep mask ever created by mankind.
The first candidate: The Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask.
“For a long time I used the Bucky’s 40 Blinks sleep mask and loved it. But I wore my first one out, and didn’t find the second to be as comfortable as the first. A couple flights ago the airline gave me one of those very cheap thin sleep masks, and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s not as good, but it’s good enough and takes up less space.”
Now granted, Tynan is a True Minimalist. The few centimeters of space and gram or two of weight he saves with this is worth it for him where it doesn’t matter for most of us.
So, for those of us looking for the most comfortable, effective, and back-pack friendly sleep mask in the world, let’s take a look at…
What The Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask Is Made To Do:
On the homepage for the 40 Blinks, Bucky claim’s that they are…
- Comfortable. “The 40 Blinks Sleep Mask is specifically designed with the utmost comfort in mind”
- Blocks All Light. “the soft, ultralight design blocks light fully”
- Hand Washable. “Hypoallergenic and hand washable”
- Durable. “Made with a fabric that is extremely lightweight, breathable, flexible, and durable, a good night’s sleep is guaranteed!”
- Light Weight. “Ultralight, this sleep mask weighs only .7 ounces or 37 grams”
Does The Bucky 40 Blinks Sleep Mask Measure Up?
TL:DR at the bottom
Is the 40 Blinks sleep mask comfortable?
Bucky goes into a good amount of detail about how amazingly comfortable the 40 Blinks is:
“The 40 Blinks Sleep Mask is specifically designed with the utmost comfort in mind — the soft, ultralight design blocks light fully and gently hugs the face without pressure using the adjustable Velcro strap that connects at the back of the head. Deep molded cups allow space between the eye and the mask so you can blink freely without pressure. Made with a fabric that is extremely lightweight, breathable, flexible, and durable, a good night’s sleep is guaranteed!”
Let’s break that down…
The inside lining of the mask is definitely soft and smooth, with minimal friction when you slide it on. It’s comfortable and non-abrasive; the perfect lining for a sleep mask. They only way they could have done this better, I think, would have been to to make it out of silk.
Eye Cups = Blinkable?
They claim that the 40 Blinks can go so far as to “protect lash extensions during sleep”, thanks to the cups over each eye that make the mask look like an eye-bra.
This claim can’t be true.
I have unusually long lashes for a guy, but no where near the length of some girls, and definitely not comparable to synthetically extended eyelashes. But my eyelashes rub against the mask with every blink. Then again, I don’t blink much with a sleep mask on (why would I?), so this doesn’t really matter. So if you’re a fake-eyelash loving nomad (rare indeed), this isn’t the sleep mask for you.
But that doesn’t mean the eye-bra shape is for naught…
No Pressure on Face?
The pressure of my sleep mask on my eyes always annoyed me with other sleep masks. It can feel like your eyes are being slightly compressed, which isn’t a pleasant sensation. With this, there is no pressure whatsoever on my eyes, and that is definitely more comfortable.
As for pressure on the rest of the face… well, I’ve never had that as a problem with any sleep mask. The 40 Blinks performs just as well as the rest here, by which I mean that it’s not noticeable on any of them.
Velcro Straps = Comfort?
The Velcro straps make this mask able to snugly fit on anywhere from my head to the head of something a good deal larger than a human.
Perhaps I like my sleep mask uncommonly snug (though it doesn’t feel snug at all), but I make my mask just about as tight as the Velcro allows it to be…which isn’t that tight. It confuses me why Bucky would make the 40 Blinks able to fit a full-grown cow’s head but not a human child’s.
That said, it’s a marked improvement on the elastic bands that most sleeping masks have. I’ve had to tie a knot in past sleep masks’ bands because they were too big or the elastic had stretched out. Which leads to an uncomfortable knot in the back of your head. I did eventually have to tie a knot in the 40 Blinks Mask when it’s elastics stretched out, but that took about a 18 months of frequent use.
Conversely the overlapping Velcro straps create a bump so tiny I don’t notice. Others have complained about it, but it’s never bothered me. Perhaps because I have thick hair.
At the same time, they allow this mask to sit lightly yet snugly on most peoples’ faces. Sleep masks don’t really follow the one size fit’s all idea; they’re usually so loose they let light in or so tight it’s uncomfortable on the eye lids. 40 Blinks always fits right, so long as your head isn’t the size of a child’s. I like that.
However, they do share a downside common to every sleep mask I’ve owned: If I loop the straps over my ears, I wake up with a slightly sore spot there. If I rest them on my ears, and sleep with the side of my head on the pillow, I wake up with a slightly sore spot there. The discomfort will go away within a few minutes of taking the mask off, but waking up with even a little amount of pain should be avoided if possible.
I think the ideal sleep mask would either have wide straps with cushioning on the ears (which would double as ear muffs, though might cause sweating), or perhaps holes.
Still, all in all, the Velcro straps make the 40 Blinks Sleep Mask a lot more comfortable and effective than most others out there.
Does the 40 Blinks sleep mask block out all light?
Depends on your nose, actually.
From testing on myself and others, the 40 Blinks lets in less light than most sleep masks, but almost never does it block out all light.
See, most masks let light in all along the top and coming in from the bottom, especially around the nose. For 40 Blinks, the only problem is the few millimeters around the nose: unless you have an abnormally flat and thin nose, some light will get in.
It’s not much, and it’s unnoticeable in relative darkness. But the difference between a little light and no light at all on your sleep quality is significant, and Bucky does not live up to it’s claim that the 40 Blinks mask “blocks light fully”, which is really the primary purpose of a sleep mask.
I’ve got a design in mind for a different style of sleep mask that does block light fully, but it’ll be a while before that sees the light of day (no pun intended).
Is the 40 Blinks sleep mask hand washable?
Yup, but that’s not really different from any other travel sleep mask. Definitely useful for giving it a quick wash in the sink in the morning so it smells clean at night, though not a major deal as I rarely manage to make mine smell bad.
Tynan somehow made his 40 Blinks Sleep Mask last for years…I have no idea how. Mine had split into three layers & the foam had nearly torn in half within 10 months.
This is one area where, obviously, Bucky has no right to claim excellence. In contrast to even cheap dollar store sleep masks, Bucky’s 40 Blinks is badly designed for durability. It simply falls apart after a few months of use (especially if you’re stuffing it in a backpack).
I’m not the first to have this problem; it’s Amazon reviews are riddled with these complaints.
The stitching which holds the soft lining, the form-holding middle, and the sun-blocking (and artistic) outer layer together is obviously made to save the manufacturer money. See, Bucky could have easily stitched the entire perimeter of the mask to hold the three layers together. Instead, they put two thick lines of stitching where the Velcro straps meet the mask, and hold the rest of the layers together with some kind of glue. A glue that, within a few months, gives way. Leaving you with a floppy mess that is usable, but a pain in the ass.
And as for those eye bumps, when the inner lining comes apart they lose a lot of their comfort. Now, when you put your mask on, you have to tug the ends of the inner lining around to stop it from just bunching up in the eye bumps and becoming less comfortable than a normal sleep mask.
The stitching & glue issue is the main durability problem, but not the only one. The middle part of the mask, after about 6 months of use, began ripping at the nose. At 7 months, it was about half ripped through.
Instead of trashing this mask and buying a new one, I took the broke-and-resourceful route and whipped out my amateur sewing skills to fix the problems (and perhaps show Bucky how they should have made the 40 Blinks Sleep Mask).
If you don’t count the above sewing as maintenance, there is no maintenance to speak of. That said, perhaps Tynan made his mask last years by treating it like delicate porcelain.
Me, I just folded it in half and threw it in my bag.
If I were to give you a recommendation on taking care of yours, I’d say put it in a sock or something. Or, better yet, sew it’s edges together before the layers start to come apart.
Weight, Size, & Noticability: 5/5
Bucky claims that the 40 Blinks Sleep Mask weighs about 37 grams.
That’s not true…but not in the way you’d expect.
Even after sewing the mask together (adding the extra weight of the thread), the mask weighs 27 grams.
A strange inaccuracy (isn’t less weight better?). But hey, it’s good news for us.
This thing costs about $10–13 USD on Amazon, which is pretty much the standard for your average sleep mask. Compared to most others at the same price point, it’s worth it. Perhaps not the best (I have many more to test before I find the best), but it’s far from the worst.
All in all, the 40 Blinks Sleep Mask is a better sleep mask than any other I’ve yet tried, but it’s not perfect.
It weighs almost nothing, blocks most light, is more comfortable than most other sleep masks, and doesn’t cost any more than most other sleep masks.
However, it will fall apart and require re-stitching if you are anything but extremely careful with it, and it doesn’t give you total darkness.
For a nomad, it’s the best sleep mask I’ve yet found…but I’m still looking for a better.
If you want to get a 40 Blinks Sleep Mask for yourself, you can get it here on Amazon.